Any news on proposals to build an alternative route between Exeter & Plymouth?

Discussion in 'Infrastructure & Stations' started by longylong, 17 Mar 2017.

  1. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I'm afraid that the methodology has been shown to be inadequate in the case of a number of projects, including the Borders railway, and as such, I believe it is holding back the development of the network. It wasn't even seen as adequate for HS2 as I recall, therefore why is it adequate for local routes ?

    I would hope that those with power within the railway industry are strongly advocating a review to central Government at every opportunity, in the light of experience with the Borders line and South Wales etc.
     
  2. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    What changes do you suggest?
     
  3. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Updating it so that the large underestimations of passenger usage on some lines are accounted for and eliminated would be a start.

    Ideally one would take a case like the Borders or Ebbw Vale and work back to see why the numbers that were put in the calculation originally didn't predict the actual numbers that turned up, and adjust the calculation accordingly.

    Then a better appreciation of the wider economic benefits of the railway are needed, taking into account the greater employment, social and educational opportunities available to those without private transport in particular, would be useful.
     
  4. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    I know the question wasn't aimed at me, however fit the Okehampton reopening there is a change that I would like to see.

    That being the evaluation of the reopening being served by an extension to the WofE services rather than only local trains.

    The train for that change is that the Avoiding Line options benefit long distance passengers, whilst the Okehampton reopening could benefit other long distance passengers which isn't currently taken into account. It would also bring in significant extra income to the industry.

    In doing so it would reduce the risk of under estimating passenger numbers.
     
  5. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Don't worry about 'muddythefish' and company cars - it's good old fashioned envy - he can't stand the fact some people have something he doesn't - so like a good old fashioned socialist rather than strive to try and get one for himself, he'd rather take it away from those fortunate enough to get one.
     
  6. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    I'm going to hazard a guess that a few people are going to suggest moving the goalposts so the results given match their argument :p:p

    Incidentally - I agree with your point - whatever the rights and wrongs of the methodology the fact it is applied consistently means you get a consistent view of whether or not a scheme is viable. Changing the methodology or metrics will actually make such comparisons next to impossible.
     
  7. Ash Bridge

    Ash Bridge Established Member

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    Or perhaps it's just that he is capable of seeing that the country would be a far far nicer place with fewer of these stupidly oversized gas guzzling SUV type monstrosities commonly driven by some of the most selfish arrogant types on the roads?
     
  8. HowardGWR

    HowardGWR Established Member

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    This is a good point. For instance, Honiton pax would like to travel to Bristol and North or Wales, without having to change and wait for half an hour at Exeter St Davids. In the same way, trains via Tavistock and Okehampton, including park and ride pax, would be able to do the same, joining those from the coast in a joining exercise at St Davids, similar to that which takes place at Salisbury with SWT Bristol and Exeter services coupled up. The more extensive the network and the less changing involved, the more attractive the product is likely to be.

    As an example, my own planned trip to Skipton from East Devon loses an hour with changes at Exeter St Davids and Leeds. That's actually lucky, because a change at Brum might have been on the cards as well, or having to travel via London, which was recommended on the booking site. With cases, lovely - not!
     
  9. DynamicSpirit

    DynamicSpirit Established Member

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    That's a tricky one. While I can see the attraction of fewer changes, it's impossible to write a timetable that allows everywhere to everywhere else without changing, so I suspect in general, it'd make more sense to try to design timetables to make changing less painful.

    In this particular case the suggestion is to extend Waterloo-Exeter trains to Plymouth via Okehampton. I'm a little dubious of this. I can't honestly see that the market for - say - Honiton to Okehamption is that big, and the risk is that by extending a service that is already very long and relatively slow, you just make the timetable less reliable. In the event that the line in question was actually rebuilt, the biggest market from Okehampton and Tavistock is likely to be commuting to Exeter or Plymouth, and I suspect that those people would prefer to have a reliable timetable. They're not going to appreciate trains being delayed because of problems at - say - Basingstoke. Just as bad, by starting trains back from Plymouth, you're introducing another potential source of unreliability to the vulnerable single-line sections between Exeter and Salisbury.

    For the small number of people who want to go long distance - such as to London, I suspect many would change at Exeter anyway in order to get the faster trains via Reading.

    All in all, extending Waterloo-Salisbury trains looks to me like a lot of potential problems for the benefit of a relatively small number of passengers.
     
  10. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    As much of the SWT network and parts of other south of London networks is quicker to get to Exeter via Salisbury than via Westbury or Reading there could be a reasonable sized market. Even allowing for a longer journey time between Exeter and Plymouth.

    Further up the thread I suggested a two way of 15 passengers per hour (7.5 returns) would be all that was needed (assuming 100 local passengers and hour (50 returns) to cover the cost of a 159 every hour based on a 12 hour day.
     
    Last edited: 20 Jun 2017
  11. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    For those that missed it, here's my post on how through services would potentially significantly benefit the business case over local services only. Note that passenger numbers are based on 12 hour days and a 300 day year to allow for quieter periods.

    With regards to the criticism that it would be a very long route and so disruption on one part would cause too many problems, should we have split the Cornish services when Reading was a major bottle neck?

    Yes Basingstoke is the week link, but that can be partly resolved by electrification to Salisbury and extending the Basingstoke stores to Salisbury so that people can change there. Much in the same way that they do at Basingstoke when there's problems East of there.

    Personally I think that disruption, although a problem, should be planned for but shouldn't stop services from being run if that is the only reason for not doing so and reasonable contingencies can be developed.
     
  12. Bald Rick

    Bald Rick Established Member

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    Underestimating (or over estimating, as happens) passenger usage is not a fault of the methodology used to produce Benefit Cost ratios.

    Such estimates of future use are an input to the models and, usually, provided by the scheme promoters. So if they get that wrong, and it produces a bad result, then there is only one place to look for 'blame'.

    Nevertheless, as stated repeatedly up thread, in the case of Ebbw Vale the under estimation of passenger numbers has been largely because the scale of development along the line was greater than expected. You only have to take a trip along the borders line to see lots of new houses popping up in Lothian, and fields being cleared for more. I really don't see that happening in Dartmoor.
     
  13. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    If promoters put the wrong numbers in, in the first place, I would have thought that the industry would support research to ensure that the correct numbers are generated in the first place ? These numbers aren't plucked out of thin air otherwise the industry wouldn't entertain them in their benefit cost ratio. I'm not interested in 'blame', and I don't particularly care whereabouts in the process the wrong numbers crop up. I'm only interested in getting the correct number at the end so that railway development isn't held back.

    Perhaps you are correct that the underestimation of numbers on the Ebbw Vale line has been due to increased development. Has there been any research to back up this theory ? Has anyone even done a survey of passengers to establish what proportion of passengers come to, or from new developments ? As it happens there is development going on in Tavistock anyway and its not inconceivable that it might happen at Okehampton as well.

    The Borders line is an interesting case. I've read that passenger numbers in the Lothian area have been less than expected whilst the more remote stations in the Borders have been thriving beyond expectations. It would be interesting if the causes of this could be looked at in more detail as it might turn transport orthodoxy on its head in terms of the sort of areas likely to benefit most from rail investment.
     
  14. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    I would suggest waiting for at least two years before drawing conclusions from the borders railway figures and then measuring actual income against predicted. Most of the heritage railway extensions/ reopenings experience massive growth in the first year but by year three this has generally dropped off by around 35%
     
  15. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    I would certainly take statistics in later years into account, however I would suggest measuring numbers rather than income.

    Also, heritage railways will rely more heavily on the novelty factor as proportionally fewer people will be using them to get from A to B.
     
  16. coppercapped

    coppercapped Established Member

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    It's income that pays the bills.
     
  17. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Yes but railways serve the economy beyond the generation of farebox revenue. The key measurable should be passenger numbers.
     
  18. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Honest question - you wouldn't happen to have a source for this would you? Any credible studies into how actuals compared with projections and where the differences came from would add a lot to this debate. Though whether it would convince the protagonists on either side may be a different question...
     
  19. paul1609

    paul1609 Established Member

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    I've been a passenger to Tweedbank for the novelty, having experienced it once it's very unlikely I would repeat it as a day out! I would suggest that I'm far from the only one, there's far better day trips at a similar time/ cost from Edinburgh
     
    Last edited: 22 Jun 2017
  20. yorksrob

    yorksrob Veteran Member

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    Maybe - but we railway enthusiasts are a bit of a breed apart !

    I certainly think that Dartmoor will prove to be an enduring draw for leisure seekers.
     
  21. tbtc

    tbtc Veteran Member

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    There’s a great report here >> https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa..._data/file/3932/demand-forecasting-report.pdf
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    There’s a graph showing how different stations compare, albeit only based on stations opened over a certain time period rather than everything since privatisation.
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    It shows, as many rational people may expect, that the forecast and observed demands are often out, and that they are broadly as likely to be over-estimated as they are under-estimated.
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    Some of the figures may look rather surprising, but it suggests that over-all the guesses are as often “over” as they are “under”. Whilst it’s easy to point to one that over-performed, there’s no press releases from Community Partnerships and what-not to highlight the fact that their local line *hasn’t* met its business case.

    For example, people have gone quiet about Ilkeston, but if it had over performed then we'd see lots of people using the argument that "Ilkeston worked well, therefore they should reopen XYZ...".
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    It’s worth pointing out, for anyone looking at Figure 3.2 of the document that there are some “damned lies and statistics”. Ebbw Vale got 451% more than expected whilst Imperial Wharf sees a reduction of 42% - but they are both wrong by 200,000 – a success from a low base looks more significant than a failure from a high base – even though the different in journeys is similar. So some of the negatives don’t look as significant as the positives, but that’s the nature of using percentages – lose half your passengers and you are only down 50% but double your passengers and you’ve gained 100%. Every gain seems amplified.
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    I’ve written more about it here ( http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?p=2521778#post2521778 ) but the short version is that once you take out the two outliers (which were badly forecast for known reasons that are explained on the Demand Forecasting Report – reasons that don’t affect other schemes) then you’ve probably got as good a chance of being ten thousand passengers down as you have of being ten thousand passengers up.
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    I’m not against every re-opening proposal – I’d look at what has worked well (short simple cheap branches that link decent sized towns to the nearest city with relatively regular commercial bus services to show that there’s a market for public transport – Alloa, Ebbw Vale etc) and look at other schemes that fit that kind of pattern (Blyth, Washington, Portishead, Skelmersdale, Renfrew etc). Forget about 1960s maps of pretty lines running through National Parks, forget about tourists, forget about London links, forget about diversionary resilience, forget about waterfalls and castles – you could build several short branches for the cost/time of a thirty mile route through Dartmoor/ Peak District/ Dorset/ Lake District/ South Downs.
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    That’s why Tavistock – Plymouth seems a good bet. Decent enough size of town at one end, can sustain at least four buses per hour (Stagecoach every fifteen minutes plus an irregular Citybus service), decent enough size of city at the other end, doesn’t have to be particularly complicated – get it built.
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    That’s also why Tavistock – Okehampton seems a bad bet – nowhere large on the route, unattractive to regular commuters, can’t sustain a proper hourly bus service (there are plenty of examples of routes that can support a relatively frequent bus service over ten miles that we should consider for train services before we have the luxury of worrying about Tavistock to Okehampton).
    *
    That’s relatively sober reading though, which is why it’s easier to ignore the facts and repeatedly say “but Ebbw Vale and Alloa did better than expected so any half-baked scheme with a terrible BCR will similarly beat expectations”. It becomes about faith rather than reality.

    So the bit of the Midlothian stations with everyday regular commuters is underperforming but the tourist/leisure dominated market into the Borders is doing well - the former section is the bread and butter, the latter section is the one more liable to drop in numbers given the novelty factor.

    Agreed.
     
  22. ianonteesside

    ianonteesside Member

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    Okehampton-Tavistock would also be a line subjected to bad weather.It snows quite a bit around there,and it might not look too good if the Dawlish stretch was shut because of the sea and the Okehampton -Tavistock because of "the wrong kind of snow".

    Would it catch on coming all the way from Waterloo to Plymouth the long way?? It might do in summer time, with walkers and other travellers to Dartmoor.But on a wet Tuesday in January it might struggle
     
  23. The Ham

    The Ham Established Member

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    Unless it is cheaper (but then that is arguably costing the industry income, unless another person uses that capacity) it is very unlike that people would use any such service from Waterloo to Plymouth. Also, if you were a TOC, you wouldn't want to encourage people to do that. As you already have lots of passengers paying to leave Waterloo, it would be better to attract them from stations were your passenger numbers are dropping off a bit.

    With the potential for lots of towns and cities connecting to the WofE services (chiefly at Woking and Salisbury, although there could be some from Clapham Junction, Yeovil and Basingstoke) as well as from the stations asking the line, then there's plenty of scope for reasonable passenger numbers.

    As I have pointed out the passenger numbers don't need to be very high for the longer distance services to contribute a significant amount to the costs of running the services. 15 passengers an hour (single movements, based on half the cost of a return) would be 180 per day or 54,000 a year. Which is not a lot compared to the about 2 5 million passengers (entries/exits) that currently use Plymouth station.

    Even allowing for the need for more local passengers that's still only a 10% increase in passengers at Plymouth, assuming that all the extra passengers start/end their journeys there. Which would ignore those from the intermediate stations wishing to travel to Exeter or further afield. As for some it could be quicker to use the new route to get to Exeter to travel on XC services heading north.

    I'm not saying that the line should be built, rather that the study should look at what impact having a through route would have on the business case. As it had the potential to make a significant positive impact on it.
     
    Last edited: 23 Jun 2017
  24. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Thanks for that - I have downloaded to read when I have an hour to spare!
     
  25. Xenophon PCDGS

    Xenophon PCDGS Veteran Member

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    I am sure that in the last five years, there have been threads about bringing back Tavistock to the national network on this website, but has there been any recent official statements from the County Council that would give hope to those who wish to see a rail reopening there.

    As long ago as 2008, the Kilbride Group talked of the building of a very large number of homes in the Tavistock area with financial support towards the costs of the new proposed railway station, but what became of that commercial aspiration?
     
    Last edited: 23 Jun 2017
  26. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    No - it should be a combination of both.

    One of the problems of Gordon Brown's bung to pensioners of free nationwide bus passes is that it has led to a farebox revenue collapse on a number of bus services which means the operators have withdrawn the service.

    If a rail reinstatement doesn't cover a high proportion of its costs then it becomes a drain on other parts of the network and over time makes it more expensive to operate the whole network. That was precisely the problem we had in the 1950s - too many routes which were a cost drain that weren't off set by the more viable routes.
     
  27. A0wen

    A0wen Established Member

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    Introducing a well reasoned post, complete with evidence and statistics - how dare you :lol: Be gone from this place, never to return.
     
  28. Cliveblackpool

    Cliveblackpool Member

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    IMO Just taking Plymouth - a second railway should be opened to provide the resilience to assure businesses, that getting 'cut off' will be extremely low.
    Would I locate headquarters for a large enterprise West of Exeter? Major servicing facility for rail? - HST's on lorries were a familiar sight during the Dawlish problem.
    Plymouth is a City with huge potential, and is losing out.
    After a second line is reopened, over a longer term it would make it far easier upgrading the South Devon railway.

    Little progress has been made? - Are there any plans yet to replace the Voyagers that keep reminding everybody of the vulnerability of the line through Dawlish, every time the services are cancelled?
     
  29. GRALISTAIR

    GRALISTAIR Established Member

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    Hear hear very well said indeed. What would it take to get this firmly back on the political agenda I wonder?
     
  30. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    The Tavistock area having a quick by-election in which the surprise candidate from the DUP gets voted in on the promise to the voters 'if elected, I'll get you whatever you want from the government'. After all, getting duped into voting for the Tories hasn't exactly brought prosperity and development to the region.:)
     

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